H. Winter Griffith, M.D. received his medical degree from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. After 20 years in medical practice as a family doctor, he established and was the first director of a basic medical science program at Florida State University. He then became an associate professor of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine.
Dr. Griffith's lifelong interest in patient education began early in his medical career. While working with his patients to solve their health problems, Dr. Griffith realized that patients could benefit from having printed educational materials. He knew that during an office visit a patient was often too worried to remember all the information discussed about their particular health problem.
Also, as a busy doctor, he was unable to spend an unlimited amount of time educating each patient. To provide his patients with educational material, Dr. Griffith wrote a set of easy-to-read and easy-to-understand handouts covering numerous medical topics. Each handout described an illness, its symptoms and causes, treatments, expected outcome, possible complications, and any diet and activity restrictions. The handouts help to reinforce oral instructions and refresh the patient's memory after leaving the doctor's office.
These patient handouts became Dr. Griffith's first book—Instructions for Patients. (A book used by health care professionals to photocopy the appropriate medical topic for their patients.)
Dr. Griffith soon recognized there was a need for additional resources that would provide patients with easily understood and reliable medical information. That concept led to his authoring a collection of books that cover almost all aspects of medical information. During his lifetime he wrote a total of twenty-seven books. All of the books are written in the same easy-to-read and easy-to-understand format of his first book.
Dr. Griffith knew medicine from two perspectives—as an experienced doctor and as a patient. For twenty-five years he battled severe cardiovascular disease. As a patient, he was on the receiving end of numerous treatments, procedures, medical tests, medications, and surgeries, including, at age 64, a heart transplant. He understood that the benefits of medical care were fully achieved only when patients become active partners with their health care providers in the management of illness.
With this perspective, Dr. Griffith devoted much of his life doing what he could to improve patient education. Following his heart transplant, Dr. Griffith enjoyed several years of revitalized health and productivity. Sadly, he developed an incurable bone cancer and passed away at the age of 67.
Dr. Griffith's patient education books are maintained and updated with the help of others who are concerned that all patients have the resources needed to make informed decisions about their medical care.
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